January 21, 2021

AI fears a "bloodbath" in today's protests in Gaza and calls for restraint on Israel

AI fears a "bloodbath" in today's protests in Gaza and calls for restraint on Israel



Amnesty International (AI) today expressed "serious fears" of "bloodshed" in Gaza and called on Israel to contain it, after it announced a policy of "zero tolerance" for incidents in the protests scheduled for this Friday and Hamas called to intensify the mobilizations.

"We ask the Israeli Government to rein in its troops, who have habitually used unnecessary or excessive force during the weekly demonstrations of the Great Return March in Gaza," the organization said in a statement.

The Islamist movement Hamas, which controls de facto the enclave, yesterday called for intensifying today's protests, after seven Palestinians died last Friday and after the escalation of tension on Wednesday with the launch of two rockets from Gaza, one of which impacted a house in Bersheva, without causing casualties.

The Israeli army responded with bombings against 20 military targets of the Islamist movement and the Security Cabinet, which was meeting for five hours and assessed the possibility of a large-scale operation, ordered the Army to "escalate the response" to possible incidents today in the border, informed the newspaper Yediot Ahronot.

AI warns that the policy of "zero tolerance", whose details have not been disclosed, means more deaths of Palestinians along the border with Israel.

"Given the horrific record of Israeli forces in the use of lethal force against Palestinian protesters in Gaza, as well as against journalists, doctors and others, the announcement of a policy of 'zero tolerance' is deeply alarming," said Saleh Higazi , Assistant Director of the Middle East and North East Africa of AI.

Since the so-called Great March of Return began on March 30 next to the divide, 205 Palestinians have been killed by shots from the Israeli army, mostly in demonstrations or violent incidents near the fence.

Higazi considered that, if today's fears are fulfilled, "Israeli forces will receive a carte blanche authorization to carry out a large-scale operation, illegal killings that increase the bloodshed."

The international organization also condemned attacks by Palestinian armed groups against civilians and Israeli civilian targets, while recalling the "three conflicts between Israel and Hamas that have had catastrophic consequences for the population of Gaza", referring to the 2008 wars, 2012 and 2014.

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